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The Four Sacred Medicines

From the Teachings by the Anishinaabe people of the Great Lakes Region and provided by American Indian Health Services of Chicago, Inc.


Tobacco is the first plant the Creator gave to the Anishinaabe people. Tobacco was given to the people so that we can communicate with the spirit world. Tobacco is used as an offering - a gift. When we ask for help or advice of an elder, healer, medicine person, or creator, we need to give a gift.

Sweet Grass

Sweet Grass is the sacred hair of Mother Earth. It's sweet aroma reminds our people of the gentleness, love, and kindness Mother Earth has for the people. Sweet Grass used in a healing circle has a calming effect. It can also be used for smudging and purification.


Cedar is used to purify homes and also has many restorative medicinal uses. When made into a tea or drink, it can clean the body of infections. A cedar bath/shower can help clean the mind and body and take away ill feelings. Cedar is used in sweat lodges as a tea and by placing it in the rocks to create a steam. You can also smudge your house with cedar first and then with sage.


Sage is used to prepare our people for ceremonies and teachings.  It is more medicinal and stronger smelling than sweet grass. Sage is used for releasing what is troubling the mind and for removing negative energies.